Albert Power (1842–1923)
Albert Power is one of four people to receive a Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Pea Ridge, March 7–8, 1862. Power received the honor for his deeds at the Leetown sector of the battlefield on March 7. Private Power was one of five Medal of Honor recipients from his unit, the Third Iowa Cavalry, during the course of the Civil War.
Albert Power was born in Liberty, Ohio, on June 18, 1842. Power enlisted in the Third Iowa Cavalry, Company A, at Keokuk, Iowa, on August 31, 1861. Power became a part of General Samuel Ryan Curtis’s Army of the Southwest at the rank of private. Appointed on Christmas Day 1861, Curtis was given one task—to drive Confederate general Sterling Price out of Missouri and into northwestern Arkansas. Curtis did so, driving and chasing General Price down Telegraph Road and into northwestern Arkansas.
Once Confederate general Earl Van Dorn arrived in northwestern Arkansas on March 2, 1862, he noticed Curtis was entrenched on the northern bluffs of Little Sugar Creek, a very formidable position. Van Dorn then altered his plan and divided his force into two divisions. One division was led by Sterling Price and a second was led by Benjamin McCulloch. Price was to take Bentonville Detour, a local road, to its confluence with Telegraph Road and move south on the right rear of Curtis’s army. McCulloch’s division was to meet Price at Elkhorn Tavern. On March 7, 1862, Union colonel Peter J. Osterhaus collided with Ben McCulloch’s division along Ford Road at Foster’s Farm.
Power was a small part of 600 Union troops sent to Foster’s Farm to investigate reports of 7,000 Confederate troops in that area. The Third Iowa Cavalry, Companies A and B, attacked the First and Second Cherokee Mounted Rifles just north of Foster’s Farm. The Cherokee forces, about 800 strong, were under the commands of Colonel John Drew and Colonel Stand Watie. The Confederates had overwhelming numbers and began to force the Union army back to the south.
As Federal troops began retreating from Foster’s Farm, one of Power’s Third Iowa Cavalry mates was surrounded by Confederate troops. Trooper Power spurred his horse up Foster’s Lane, rescued his comrade by picking him up on horseback, and then galloped to safety. All along the way, Power was exposed to tremendous small-arms fire. Power and the Third Iowa Cavalry retreated back to the south-southwest, and the Union army took a stand at Leetown. Power’s act earned for him one of four Medals of Honor at the Battle of Pea Ridge.
The Union army received reinforcements at Leetown in the afternoon under the leadership of Colonel Jefferson Columbus Davis. Davis placed his men on the extreme right flank of Colonel Osterhaus, and the two commanders worked together. Earlier in the day, the top two generals at Leetown, Ben McCulloch and James McIntosh, were killed in the first hour of fighting there. Confusion and chaos rained down on the ranks of Confederates, and the Union Army won the day at Leetown.
Power stayed in the military until the end of the war, rising to the rank of First Sergeant in the Third Iowa Cavalry, Company A. After the war, he returned to Bloomfield, Iowa. He received his Medal of Honor on March 6, 1899, thirty-seven years after his heroic deed on the battlefield at Pea Ridge. Power died in Bloomfield on April 26, 1923, and is buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery there.
For additional information:
Knight, James R. The Battle of Pea Ridge: The Civil War Fight for the Ozarks. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2012.
Piston, William Garrett, and Richard Hatcher III. Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
Schultz, Robert G. The March to the River: From the Battle of Pea Ridge to Helena, Spring, 1862. Iowa City, IA: Camp Pope, 2014.
Shea, William, and Earl J. Hess. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West. Fayetteville: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Kerry King Jones
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